District heating comes to town: The social shaping of an energy system
1992 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
This thesis deals with the introduction of district heating in an "ordinary" Swedish town: Mjölby. The process was initiated in 1974 and the decision to build was taken in 1979. In the following years pipelines were laid down and the system was gradually built. In 1987, a permanent heat plant was ready to assume operation. The study deals with the decision-making process and the first ten years of systems operation 1980-1990.
The system is recognized as an example of a grid-based energy system. Its properties and the empirical findings of the study are analyzed with the help of modern theories of technical systems, in particular those relating to large technical systems, as well as theories of technology viewed as actor-networks. From an organizational point of view, the configuration of interests around this energy system can be regarded as a grid-based multiorganization, in which many organizations (or parts thereof) which otherwise do not have much in common interact to achieve a shared purpose. The empirical investigation, which is built on document studies and a large number of interviews, demonstrates among other things the manner in which new actors were successively enrolled into the multi organization for district heating. The multiorganization is characterized by inherent tensions as well as a lack of sovereign control by any one actor.
The thesis consists of two parts. In part I the problem, the town and the actual building process are described (chapters 1-3). Existing theories for the analysis of systembuilding are presented, and their relevance to the problem at hand is discussed (chapter 4).
Part II presents the empirical findings, structured in the form of "five critical issues" of technological system-building. In chapter 5 the focus is on the decision-making process: whether or not to build a district heating system. Chapter 6 disusses how and why the organizational format of part-municipally owned limited company to run the system was decided upon. An extremely sensitive issue is how to get subscribers, in time with systems expansion and on mutually acceptable terms; marketing strategies and consumer responses to as well as their experiences of district heating are discussed in chapter 7. In chapter 8 the conflict-ridden regulatory process, centering on where to place the central heating plant, is discussed. Environmental and other interests forced the system-builders to back down from their first siting choice. How to fend off (but also live with) competion from other systems such as resistance electric heat and heat pumps, is the issue at the center of chapter 9. Finally the thesis summarizes the reasons why Mjölby succeeded in this challenging task, what its experience suggests about the social organization of grid-based energy systems, and what criteria can be seen as contributingto a "good" system.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1992. , 319 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 80
district heating, municipal technology, energy system, pipeline, large t<:chnical system, actor network, multiorganization, grid, grid-based energy system
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35107Local ID: 24870ISBN: 91-7870-953-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-35107DiVA: diva2:255955
1992-06-01, Sal Elysion, Hus-T, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (English)